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TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — WellCare Health Plans Inc. said Friday its first-quarter earnings more than tripled as the government health insurance provider saw a big membership gain in Medicare prescription drug plans compared to last year, when enrollment fell mainly due to marketing sanctions from the federal government.

The Tampa, Fla., company earned $21.3 million, or 50 cents per share, in the three months that ended March 31. That compares with earnings of $6.4 million, or 15 cents per share, in the same quarter of 2010. Adjusted net income for 2011′s first quarter was 66 cents per share.

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